From 1995 to 2005 nu metal was inescapable, the last rock subgenre to compete with pop music for the top of the charts. Videos by Linkin Park and Korn played between videos by the Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears. Limp Bizkit’s record label paid a radio station $US5,000 to play one of their songs 50 times. It was a strange time.
A few bands associated with nu metal – Korn, Slipknot, Deftones and Linkin Park – managed to escape the era and continue to appear at the top of festival lineups. But whatever happened to the rest of those bands with terrible facial hair and DJs who scratched for five seconds during the pre-chorus? JODY MACGREGOR investigates.
Where they were: Discovered and signed by Fred Durst in 2001, Puddle Of Mudd went on to sell over seven million albums. At the height of their 2000s fame their songs were used on The O.C. and as the official theme for WWE’s Royal Rumble.
Where they are now: Puddle Of Mudd haven’t released an album of original material since 2009; although if you really need to hear their versions of Rolling Stones, AC/DC and Neil Young songs you should check out their 2011 covers album Re:(disc)overed. They continue playing live but singer Wes Scantlin has been accused of lip-syncing so many times the band deleted their Facebook after it was inundated with complaints from disappointed fans. Scantlin has also been arrested numerous times, mostly for alcohol-related offences, and in 2015 was picked up by police while drunkenly riding a baggage carousel at Denver Airport.
Where they were: Mudvayne formed in 1996 and wore outfits like a two-dollar-store version of Slipknot. The band members called themselves Kud, sPaG, Ryknow, and Gurrg. Later, they changed their names to Chüd, Spüg, Rü-D, and Güüg, before eventually ditching both the makeup and stage names. Along the way they released three gold albums, then two more that didn’t sell so well, and then they broke up in 2010.
Where they are now: Vocalist Chad Grey has a band with members of Pantera and Nothingface called Hellyeah. Other ex-members of Mudvayne play in Audiotopsy. Neither band is as big as Mudvayne were, but then neither of them is nu metal so at least they can sleep at night now.
Where they were: Staind’s claim to fame is that their debut album’s cover art, which featured a Barbie on a crucifix, managed to offend Fred Durst so much he tried to get them kicked off a Limp Bizkit support slot. Their single ‘It’s Been Awhile’ went gold in both the US and Australia, and they sold over 15 million records worldwide.
Where they are now: Staind went on hiatus in 2012, returning to play a handful of music festivals in 2014 before going back on hiatus so frontman Aaron Lewis could focus on his solo career as a country musician. He released an album called The Road (“I’ve got a big orange tractor and a diesel truck/and my idea of heaven’s chasing white tail bucks”) and was invited to perform the national anthem at a baseball game, though he got the words wrong.
Where they were: 311 are best remembered for their 1996 hit ‘Down’, which made it to number 11 in that year’s triple j Hottest 100, beating ‘Born Slippy’ by Underworld. ‘Down’ is the one with the video where they meditate with a levitating sumo.
Where they are now: 311’s dedicated cult of fans have kept them going, continually releasing albums since their ’90s heyday, every single one of which charts in America. Their 13th album Stereolithic came out in 2014 and continued the trend by topping the US Alternative charts. 311 also host a yearly Caribbean cruise for their fans, and sponsor a NASCAR racer. They are the most successful band you didn’t realise survived the ’90s.
Where they were: Alien Ant Farm’s boner-punk cover of Michael Jackson’s ‘Smooth Criminal’ made it to number one in Australia in 2001. After contributing songs to the soundtracks of Spider-Man, American Pie 2, and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3, they broke up in 2007.
Where they are now: Thanks to a successful crowdfunding campaign on PledgeMusic Alien Ant Farm released a new album called Always And Forever in 2015. It scored an average rating of 61/100 on Metacritic.
Where they were: Though they mellowed later, Incubus began as a nu metal band – you can tell because they had a DJ – as you can hear on their double-platinum 1999 album Make Yourself. They played Ozzfest, had two more hit albums, and then went on hiatus.
Where they are now: Incubus returned with If Not Now, When? in 2011, which did not review well (Rolling Stone gave it 2.5 stars). Lead singer Brandon Boyd was cast as Judas in a production of Jesus Christ Superstar also starring Michelle Williams and Johnny Rotten but, after months of rehearsals, it was canceled due to “lack of interest”. Incubus guitarist Mike Einziger now co-writes with Avicii and David Guetta.
Where they were: “Come my lady/Come, come my lady” was bursting out of your TV whether you liked it or not back in November of 2000, as Crazytown’s song ‘Butterfly’ bafflingly made it to number 4. They broke up in 2003 after being unable to repeat the hit.
Where they are now: Five years after their breakup vocalist Shifty Shellshock appeared on Celebrity Rehab. He returned for its second series, and then its spin-off Celebrity Rehab Presents: Sober House, and then returned again for the second series of that. He eventually reunited with singer Epic Mazur, re-formed Crazytown, and together they released a new album called The Brimstone Sluggers in 2015.
Where they were: Payable On Death were the Christian nu metal band who managed to crossover into success with both of those fanatical audiences. Their 2001 album Satellite went platinum three times in the US, they were on the bill of both Ozzfest and MTV Campus Invasion, and they somehow reconciled their religion with contributing a song to Adam Sandler’s movie about being the son of Satan, Little Nicky.
Where they are now: P.O.D. never broke up and in the strange world of Christian music they remained relevant long after nu metal faded from popular consciousness. But they briefly made headlines again when footage of them performing in 2006 with Katy Perry as a backup singer – back when she was making Christian music under the name Katy Hudson – emerged online. The band responded with a video in which they were visibly upset “our girl Katy” was being called a backup singer when “she paid her dues” touring with them. Last year they also released a concept album called The Awakening. It was not a success.
Where they were: If you are ever tempted to take the Grammy Awards seriously remember that Limp Bizkit have been nominated for three of them. Their 2000 album Chocolate Starfish And The Hot Dog Flavored Water made it into Billboard’s list of the 20 best-selling American albums of the decade, with over 20 million copies sold worldwide. After releasing their Greatest Hitz compilation in 2005 they broke up, but reunited in 2009 to release Gold Cobra.
Where they are now: In 2012 the Bizkit signed with Lil Wayne’s record label Cash Money and released a single featuring him called ‘Ready To Go’. They left Cash Money before completing their next album, Stampede Of The Disco Elephants, which they are still working on and threatening to release independently.
Where they were: As Limp Bizkit did with ‘Faith’ and Alient Ant Farm with ‘Smooth Criminal’, Orgy had an early hit with a nu metal cover of a pop song – an industrial version of ‘Blue Monday’ by New Order. Their 1998 album Candyass went platinum in the States, and they followed it with two more albums before going on hiatus in 2004.
Where they are now: Members of Orgy have been promising fans a reunion since 2008 when lead singer Jay Gordon posted a Facebook message saying he planned to restart Orgy with a new lineup because the rest of the band were too busy. But guitarists Amir Derakh and Ryan Shuck then made statements of their own saying they’d agreed to the reunion but Gordon wanted to pull “an Axl Rose move” and replace them. The new lineup Orgy launched a crowdfunding campaign asking for $US100,000 to record a new album. They raised $US8,739.